Lemon Oil: Health Benefits and How to Use It

Medically Reviewed by Jabeen Begum, MD on November 22, 2022
2 min read

Lemon oil is extracted from the skin of the lemon. The essential oil can be diluted and applied directly to the skin or diffused into the air and inhaled. It is a common ingredient in various skin and aromatherapy products.

It has long been used as a home remedy to clear the skin, to soothe anxiety, and to stimulate the mind. More recently, small medical studies have investigated the validity of these claims and discovered that lemon oil does offer several health benefits.

Lemon oil should never be ingested, but it is safe to use in aromatherapy and diluted, topical applications. It may help to promote the following:

Reduced Anxiety and Depression

Lemon oil can put you in a better mood, soothing anxiety and lifting the spirits. A small study on mice found that mice who inhaled lemon oil vapor showed a decrease in symptoms of stress.

Healthier Skin 

Lemon oil has antimicrobial properties. When diluted and applied to the skin, it has demonstrated both antibacterial and antifungal effects.

Lemon oil may also help to speed healing. A study on mange in rabbits showed marked improvement in those treated with lemon oil. However, high-quality, human trials have yet to be performed.

Reduced Morning Sickness in Pregnant Women

According to one study, pregnant women who inhale lemon oil demonstrated a significant decrease in nausea. They also experienced less frequent and less intense vomiting.

Improved Mental Alertness

The brisk scent of lemon oil has an invigorating effect on the mind. One study found that people with Alzheimer’s disease who underwent an aromatherapy regimen performed better on cognitive tasks involving personal orientation. Lemon oil was one of the four essential oils included.

Lemon oil is considered to be safe for most people when used as directed. There is no recorded danger to infants, children, or pregnant women.

The most common side effect is an increase in photosensitivity. Citrus-oil-treated skin may become red and irritated when exposed to the sun. In order to avoid this irritation, you should minimize direct sun exposure and properly dilute your lemon oil solution.

You should not ingest lemon oil directly. If you wish to add lemon flavor when cooking or baking, make sure that you use a lemon extract approved for this use.

In order to use lemon oil in aromatherapy, apply a few drops into a diffuser. Enjoy in an open and well-ventilated space, and keep sessions to a half-hour in order to maximize benefits. Prolonged exposure is not necessarily dangerous, but runs the risk of olfactory fatigue, or decreased sensitivity.

To use topically, follow the manufacturer’s directions. You should always dilute essential oils with a neutral carrier oil before applying them to your skin.